Frequently Asked Questions
What are your opening times?
We are open 10 am to 5 pm most days between October and June. We are closed Christmas Day 25th December and Boxing Day 26th December, but we are open for Easter and all other Public Holidays. We close for the winter for day visitors after the Queen's Birthday Holiday in June, but have pop up shop days when the weather is good during the winter. Like us on Facebook for news.
Sometimes we have to close for meetings, appointments or conferences as we are a small business without replacement staff, so we apologise if you arrive at the gate and find a closed sign occasionally.
When are the strawberries ready to pick?
The season runs from late October to late May, but sometimes nature does not co-operate and supply can be low. The time when there are the most strawberries are November and March/April. There are definitely no strawberries in winter June, July, August and September when we are pruning and planting the new crop.
What does biodynamic growing mean?
Biodynamics is a method of organic farming that treats soil fertility, plant growth and livestock care as a single interrelated system. We don't use artificial chemicals on the farm and rely on herbal and mineral additives and compost to improve the health of the soil. Pete compares it to how a probiotic adds the good bugs into our gut for our good health.
If you don't spray the strawberries how do you get rid of insects?
As the soil health improves, the plants are healthy and resist insect attack and disease. We have LOTS of insects in the field, as you might have noticed.
Can we buy strawberry plants from you?
Yes, when we plant in June we pot up some extras to sell. We buy the certified runners from the runner growers in Toolangi. The plants sell very quickly in October as they are very popular.
What does it mean when you say you are a sustainable farm?
We are constantly improving in our sustainability levels. At the moment we generate our own power with solar panels, we harvest rainwater into tanks for use in the house and shop, we grow fruits and vegetables biodynamically, we grow chickens for eggs and sheep for fibre and meat biodynamically, we do not use plastic bags or straws in the shop, our strawberry punnets are recyclable, we send all food scraps to the chooks and compost heaps, we discourage single use coffee cups and milkshake cups, we reuse, repurpose and recycle wherever possible, we use drip irrigation to reduce water use on the crops and evaporation, we grow native trees for habitat, shelter and shade and wood harvesting and we are working towards reducing the population of foxes, rabbits and feral cats.
Do you employ pickers and workers?
No, we don't employ anyone. We seem to be the first place international visitors stop to enquire about work, during summer there could be up to 5 enquiries per day! Register at the Harvest Labour Office in Shepparton, and good luck!
Why do some strawberry plants look dead or dying in late Summer?
Australia has recently suffered from a soil pathogen called Charcoal Rot (Macrophomina phaseolina). It affects corn, sorghum, soybeans and strawberries. It affects the plants more when they are stressed by hot weather. It is very concerning to farmers and scientists are working on a way to control or minimise the pathogen. We have noticed its spread particularly in the patch next to the carpark where strawberries have been grown on a regular basis for 25 years. We can no longer grow strawberries in this paddock, so it is being converted into the Permaculture Garden. The strawberry patch is in a paddock that has not had strawberries before.
Is there an entry fee to your farm?
No, just pay for what you buy with pick your own or ready packed fruits and vegetables, jams, cafe and mini golf.
How old is the wooden cottage?
The original settler's house was built in 1873 when the land was settled under a Land Grant by William Carlyon. The timber was cut and milled on the farm with a wooden shingle roof, then later corrugated iron. The nails were hand made in a blacksmith's shop and Pete has preserved one of them in the resin of the timber table in the Farm Cafe. For more detail on the history of the farm, refer to the book "History of Belstack Strawberry Farm 1840 to 2015" which you will find in the Farm Cafe.
What is there for kids to do?
Lots and lots! Pick strawberries, lick ice creams, look at the animals, do a treasure hunt (at set times), learn about plants and food in the Permaculture Garden, play in the sandpit, play mini golf, play in the toy kitchen and with the wooden train set, go walking by the river to look for fox holes or look for turtles and fish in the river.
You are welcome to celebrate your child's birthday here with an ice cream and 250g pick your own and a game of mini golf for $10 per child. Allow 1 to 2 hours, that's long enough for everyone!
We remind you that children must have adult supervision and respect our property. Please pack up the play things after use.
For any questions not answered here, email us through the Contact Us form at the About Us page.